Friday, September 29, 2006

Unica Affinium 7 Improves Response Attribution

Unica ( released the latest version of their Affinium marketing suite earlier this month. One set of enhancements related to response attribution, which the new release makes both more flexible and easier to use. Since this is an area of particular interest for me, I asked Unica for a briefing.

Over all, the new features are very good, but I’ll leave it to Unica’s marketing materials to describe them at length. One point that struck me during the conversation, however, came in response to a question I asked about dealing with responses that can be linked to multiple promotions. Unica gives users three standard options: give all the credit to one promotion, give full credit to all the promotions (and thus double count), or divide the credit equally among all the promotions. I asked about weighting the fractions so that some promotions get more credit than others but the total still adds to one. To me this makes sense and is somewhat consistent with the notion of multivariate analysis I have discussed elsewhere.

Unica said they had considered that option but asked several major clients and not one had any interest. (Unica could in fact support such a method as a custom rule if anybody did want it.) They asked me if I had ever seen anyone do it that way, and I had to admit I couldn’t think of anybody off hand.

This raises a concern that’s always lurking in the background: are sophisticated concepts, or simple concepts that rely on sophisticated analytics, actually too complicated for the real world? The first question to answer is, do they offer real benefits? The Unica clients who are satisfied with simplistic response attribution presumably don’t think so in that particular case. Assuming the benefit are there, the second question is, how do you convince people to make a change? Can you start simple and gradually become more complicated, or do you just hide the complexity inside a black box, or do you expose the complexity and educate them about why it’s necessary? I don’t have any answers just now—it’s Friday after all—but it's important to keep asking.

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